Emergency SOS via satellite: Where and how the life-saving iPhone feature works

Apple iPhone 14 feature, Emergency SOS via satellite has been available to users in the U.K., France, Germany and Ireland, the U.S., and Canada since 2022 and is coming to more countries in 2023. Here’s everything you need to know about the new life-saving feature.

Do I need an iPhone 14 to use Emergency SOS via satellite?

Yes, the feature is only for the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. It is not available on any other device, including the newest iPad Pros or Apple Watch Ultra.

Do I need the latest version of iOS?

Apple only says you need to be on iOS 16.1, which was released on October 25, 2022. You can update to the latest version of iOS 16 in the Settings app by going to General and Software Update.

Additional features will arrive with iOS 16.2 when that becomes available. In iOS 16.2 and later, users who dial a local emergency service number will automatically be routed to 112, the European emergency phone number. Then, if the call does not go through due to a cellular or Wi-Fi connection they will be able to use the Emergency SOS via satellite, even if they don’t dial 112.

Nor do you need to turn anything on – and you can’t turn it off either. The service automatically kicks in when you try to contact 911, 999, or 112 and cellular service isn’t available.

Is Emergency SOS via satellite available worldwide?

Emergency SOS via satellite is available in U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the U.K. Apple announced that it will come to Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal in March 2023.

Emergency SOS


Where can I find Emergency SOS via Satellite on my iPhone?

Go to Settings > Emergency SOS and scroll down to the bottom. You should see a new Emergency SOS via satellite section. If not, check if your phone has updated to iOS 16.1.

Can I try out Emergency SOS via Satellite on my iPhone?

Yes, you can test the service before you might need it by tapping on the Try Demo option in Settings. When you do this your iPhone will go through the same steps as it would during an emergency to demonstrate how it can find and track a satellite, but won’t send an emergency alert.

Is there a fee to use it?

Not at the start. Apple is providing two years of service to anyone who buys an iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro from the time of activation.

What happens after two years?

It’s unclear. There will presumably be a charge, but we don’t know what it will be or who you will pay.

How does Emergency SOS via satellite work?

  1. If a 911, 999, or 112 call fails, an “Emergency Text via Satellite SOS” icon will appear in the lower right-hand corner of your iPhone’s screen. Tap It.
  2. You’ll be prompted to explain your emergency via a series of five multiple-choice questions.
  3. Then, you’ll see a screen with a satellite animation that directs you to point your iPhone in the direction of the nearest satellite to send and receive a message.

Emergency SOS via satellite screenshots

Emergency SOS via satellite uses simple questions to send the appropriate response to your location.


What if I move out of range of the satellite?

Your iPhone will buzz to alert you to move it to a new position.

How long does the message take to send?

It varies. Apple says, “Satellites move rapidly, have low bandwidth, and are located thousands of miles away from Earth, so it can take a few minutes for even short messages to get through.” In The Verge’s hands-on with the feature, the whole process took between three and five minutes.

Can I talk to someone during an emergency?

No, Emergency SOS via satellite is text-only.


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